Twin Mom Carrie talks to money maven and twin mom Samantha Kemp-Jackson about saving money as a parent of multiples.
Samantha! It's such a pleasure to introduce you to The Twin Source audience. I first discovered your genius when I stumbled upon your Tips for Saving Money clip that appeared on "Canada AM". I was instantly charmed by your ideas and, of course, by the fact that you are a mom managing four children, including your twin boys.
Thanks so much, Carrie! I appreciate your kind words. Yes, it's constant mayhem and a crazy life, particularly with the twins, but I have figured out some strategies for coping. "Necessity is the mother of invention," a wise woman once said.
What struck me about that video and many of your musings is your responsible slant on the family budget. Can you share your Top 2 tried-and-true tips for a family to save in the day to day?
Absolutely! I think that we as parents are on a continual mission to balance our family budgets along with providing our loved ones with the items they need and want. As much as we would love to get the newest and latest clothes and gadgets, it's not always feasible. My Top 2 tried-and-true tips are as follows:
1) Mix and Match. By this, I mean provide your kids with a combination of new and gently used items. There's nothing wrong with hand-me-downs if they're in good shape; why waste good clothing? As I mentioned in the "Canada AM" clip, consider a clothing co-op with like-minded parents of your kids' friends as well as family members. That way, you can "share the love" and the clothes that are in good shape while saving money. While doing this is great, there's nothing like getting new clothes. Personally, I tend to buy shoes and boots new, but everything else is fair game! If you're buying new, shop off-season for items to get the best discounts. For example, buy snow pants in summer and T-shirts in winter. They'll be on sale—I guarantee it. For more money-saving tips along these lines, check out my blog post on the topic: Top 10 Ways to Save Money: Tips For Parents.
2) Always Know the Unit Price. Things that are sold in large quantities or bulk have a unit price for each item. For example, a box of diapers may be on sale, but how much are you actually spending for each diaper? Before purchasing, make sure you figure out the unit price by taking the total cost of the full box and dividing it by the number of items in the box. This will give you the true cost of each item. What I find by doing this is that the products that are "on sale" are not always a good deal.
School has just begun. As we enter the fall, do you have any insights on cost savings for the new school year?
Yes! I just wrote about this because I know that back-to-school time is stressful for parents—not only emotionally, but financially as well. My advice to parents is to stay calm, take a deep breath, and know that you'll get through this. Also remember that you're in control, not the kids; at the end of the day, what you say goes! Make a budget for back-to-school purchases, and stick to it. Tell your kids what you will be spending, and make them aware of the value of money.
Another key point about back-to-school time is that all items do not have to be purchased by the first day or week. Remember that stores and marketers realize that parents are vulnerable during this time and that the push to buy, buy, buy is on. My strategy has always been to purchase a few new things for the first day and week, then to buy the remainder of items as needed and as the months go on. They will be less expensive, and you will not have to battle those crazy crowds at the mall!
For more tips and advice, check out Back to School on a Budget – Top 10 Tips For Parents and More Back-to-School Shopping Tips (video) on my blog.
[Editor's Note: For even more back-to-school shopping tips from Samantha, check out The Star's article Back to School Shopping on a Budget]
Shall we talk raising twins a bit? Your identical twin boys, Aubrey and Erik, certainly keep you on your toes! When they came along, you were already a mother to two beautiful girls. But were you prepared for twins? And by that I mean, did you arm yourself or your nursery in any special ways to help manage two infants during those early days?
While I'd love to say that we were totally prepared for the twins, I'd be lying! Having two babies at the same stage of development is challenging beyond words, as all of us twin parents know. I'm not the most organized of parents and I was on bed rest for most of my pregnancy with the twins, so I didn't go crazy getting things ready for the nursery. Of course, we had the standard items purchased—the crib, layette, diapers, etc.—but we didn't go overboard. Like I was saying about back-to-school shopping, parents really don't have to buy everything at once. At the end of the day, you need very little when the babies come home from the hospital, so I advise parents not to go overboard and to go with the flow.
Can you speak a bit about the gifts and challenges of raising identical twins?
Oh, there are many! A few of the challenges:
- Cultivating their sense of individual identity.
- Making sure there's no favoritism.
- Treating them as individuals.
- Dealing with outsiders' expectations, preconceptions, and unsolicited commentary.
Some of the gifts? Well, there are many of those as well:
- The love of two amazingly similar but uniquely individual children that are both yours.
- The fun.
- The good times.
- The laughter.
- The silliness.
- The mayhem!
Yes, it's fun—most of the time!
Lastly, a "Woman on the Street" question: If a woman approached you on the street and asked for advice about being a first-time mother of twins, what would you say?
Don't sweat the small stuff.
Hang in there.
Parenting twins is more than worth it and a unique blessing for those of us who have had the privilege.
Samantha, thank you so very much for taking the time to share your advice with our community. You have been truly informative!
Thank you, Carrie! I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you and your readers.
Samantha Kemp-Jackson is a writer, blogger, parenting expert, media personality, and voice behind the popular parenting blog Multiple Mayhem Mamma. She is the mother of four children, including identical twin boys. Her kids, who range in age from mid-20s to 3 (the twins), provide her with ample fodder and a unique perspective for her blog posts and writing assignments. A frequently sought-out broadcast media guest, she focuses on parenting-related topics and issues that resonate with parents via a lighthearted and humorous perspective. Samantha is a very active participant in various social media channels and loves to interact with her audience digitally. To connect with Samantha, follow her here:
Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/106147739997818202247